Friday, April 07, 2006

Nobody's Grandson

I thought this was an interesting article on Benjamin Harrison because you wouldn’t see many politicians today avoiding nepotism if it was available to them. It is interesting, that in the mid to late 19th century we had a lot of men who almost seemed to ambivalent about the presidency and seeking office. Not something we see much of today (unless it’s a ruse to get our attention…)

From the site:
"My ambition is for quietness rather than for publicity," he wrote. "I want to avoid everything that is personal. . . . I want it understood that I am the grandson of nobody."

But against his wishes, Harrison's managers insisted on making the connection to his famous grandfather. Campaign posters referred to Tippecanoe." "Keep the ball rolling" had been William Henry's campaign theme; now the giant ball of his grandfather's day was re-created so that the grandson could also push it to victory. And to Benjamin Harrison's great embarrassment, mock log cabins were set up as his campaign headquarters to evoke the spirit of the first Harrison candidacy and to symbolize his grandfather's supposed humble origins.

This is an interesting look at a very different candidate and election that we are used of today. While mud-slinging is certainly not new, it seems to be omnipresent in modern elections rather than just something that appears in very close or personal elections. Political ads today are more about why not to elect the opponent than why to elect the candidate in the message.

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